The Long Island Nets pulled out a nine-point victory over the Maine Red Claws just a week ago. As the second placed team in the Eastern conference, it was a great victory for the Nets team. However, the Red Claws got their revenge Friday night after defeating the Nets 118-114 on their home floor.
It is always a double-edged sword when you play a team within such a short time frame. On one hand, it is easier for coaches and players in terms of scouting and familiarity with the teams play. On the other hand, the opposing team also has a fresh memory of team and individual scouting.
Nonetheless, both teams still must compete to earn a win.
The matchup between the Nets and Red Claws was a battle of the backcourt. Two-way players Chris Chiozza and Trey Davis went at it. With Chiozza as more of a facilitating type of player and Davis as a straight up bucket (scored 57 in a G League game), it was going to be a contrasting battle.
In the first half, the Nets started out shooting 1-for-11 from the floor. Although obviously a terrible shooting percentage, it was a deceiving reflection on how the team was actually playing. The Nets got great looks, but didn’t find the bottom of the net until the start of the second quarter. On multiple occasions, Chiozza got out in transition, shifting into another gear. When he turned on the jets, there was not a single Maine player who could keep him in front of them. He flourished in the open court either finishing at the rim himself or finding open teammates. At one point, the Nets recorded 11 of their 26 points from transition off of Maine turnovers.
On the other hand, the Red Claws played a very consistent first half. Shooting well from beyond the arc early gave them a 33-17 first quarter lead. Despite the Nets momentum surge at the beginning of the second quarter, the Red Claws always found a way to hit back. Specifically, Tremont Waters, who finished with 23 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds, continuously found a way to put the ball in the basket. He got to his spots and let muscle memory do the rest.
Thus, the Nets headed into the locker room at halftime down ten.
But there was still a lot of game left.
As the second half began, the Nets made it CLEAR that they were not going down without a fight. Justin Anderson, 33 points and eight rebounds, was a force to be reckoned with all game. An experienced NBA vet, the Nets relied on his offensive athleticism and strength to stay in the game. Nearly impossible to guard in the paint, he also connected on four three pointers which opened the lane up for him even more.
The end of the third quarter was where the backcourt became a big part of play in Chiozza and Davis. Because both teams did not necessarily find offense out of their offensive sets or ball screen options, a majority of scoring was simply one on one execution. Chiozza who finished with almost a triple double, 25 points, eight rebounds and six assists disowned his title as a distributing point guard. He picked a part the defense with his shifty quickness, finishing well at the rim or finding the bottom of the net from beyond the arc.
But Davis responded. Well.
It was concerning for the Nets that a player who has the ability to score 57 points in a game would receive countless open looks down the stretch. Nevertheless, Davis took full advantage. Despite a smaller stature, his speed, like Chiozza, provided him the ability to get wherever on the floor. Mostly untouched. A lightning bolt in transition and sharp shooter from the three, Davis went off. With two minutes in the ball game, the Nets and Red Claws were all tied up. After some back and forth action, Davis hits a daggering three, finishing with 29 points and seven rebounds.
The Nets continued to fight down the stretch however. Finding a quick basket in the paint, the Nets had an opportunity for a quick stop and score. But, Kaiser Gates shattered all hope after a well-contested corner three went down for the Red Claws.
Even though it was another well-balanced effort for the Nets, six players scoring in double figures, the 18 turnovers and six missed free throws made all the difference throughout the matchup.
The Long Island Nets return to play January 27th against the Grand Rapids Drive.